Asiriyar Dr. K.Veeramani conducts the Self-Respect Marriage, symbolising human dignity and gender equality to three pairs of Black Shirt cadres at the Conference. The leaders of the constituents of Periyar Movement are on the dais.
23rd December, the day prior to Periyar Memorial Day was selected for conducting the Rally and Conference for Retrieval of the Rights of the Tamils in Trichy. Of late the government has grown scared of the colour ‘Black’ and came down with a ban on the event. Undeterred, the organizers approached the High Court which annulled the police ban, allowing the rally to go on as scheduled.
All the Periyarists functioning under different names came together on that day showing that they were together, in a single camp, when the very concept of Periyarism was under threat. If anyone were under the illusion that Periyarism was on the wane, they were in for disillusionment. For the crowd that gathered for the occasion was large, larger than any political party could muster. If one remembers that none of the organizations that gathered on the occasion was political, one will understand that each one of them, men, women and children, clad in black were driven by their loyalty to Periyarism, and nothing else. Since the crowd was much larger than expected, the police seemed to feel uneasy, but their fear proved to be unfounded since the gathering showed itself to be an illustration for Periyarist discipline.
The rally, flagged off by Asiriyar K.Veeramani caught the attention of the onlookers with Silambam, Drum (parai attam) and Mela Talam. The conference that followed opened with a song that loudly proclaimed ‘Black is our Colour’.
Thirumurugan Gandhi of May 17 Movement asserted that all the outfits who followed Periyar and eschewed electoral politics had come together on that occasion, If ever politics of religious fanaticism, or caste fanaticism were to rear its ugly head in Tamil Nadu, Periyar’s brigade would ward it off. The saffron crowd which claims that Periyarism has fallen in Tamil Nadu will be driven away by our united efforts. The rulers are sparing no efforts to rob us of all our wealth and give it away to the corporate bodies, through shadowy projects like eight lane highway and methane. We will not allow it to happen and oppose it with all our united might.”
Suba. Veerapandian of Dravidian Tamils Federation pointed out that ‘Periyar’ is the word of the century. “All these Black Shirt movements which have got together today are merely divisions, not dissentions. The aim of the conference is not merely opposing bigotry and fascism. We are also against casteism and casteist killings.” He avowed that lotus would never blossom in Tamil Nadu .
Hariparanthaman, former justice of Madras High Court lamented that no one belonging to the backward classes could become high court judges in any state other than Tamil Nadu. Periyar programmes included eradication of castes and liberation of women, he said.
Kovai Ramakrishnan of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam proclaimed that a ‘fill-the-prisons’ agitation would be conducted to release Nalini and Perarivalan who were sure to participate in the next conference.
Movie director Karu Palaniappan explained that Periyar was still celebrated for his farsightedness. He added that Periyar never retracted what he said and blamed it on his admin. That is why he lived as a hero till his last breath.
Periyar should not be seen just as an atheist. It was he who liberated the non Brahmins from shackles of slavery, said Nagai Tiruvalluvan. When you think of Periyar you are reminded of Anti Hindi Agitation and the Constitution Burning Agitation against casteism, pointed out Kolathur Mani.
Asiriyar K.Veeramani who delivered the concluding address asserted that the conference was meant to bury the Modi government deep under the earth. Black was the symbol of their agitation. They would not enter politics, but decide its direction. Modi, who had time to attend a movie actress’ wedding did not come to inspect the damage caused by Gaja cyclone. He proclaimed that whoever joined hands with Modi was betraying his people. He asserted that a Ravana Festival would be celebrated in Tamil Nadu.
All the leaders including Asiriyar Veeramani walked for two hours and a half along with the rally irrespective of their age. Inter caste weddings of three couple were conducted on the stage. The ground was filled to the brim, with many people standing on the sides.
The conference held on the same day that Tsunami formed in the Indonesian Ocean had sent shockwaves up to Delhi, was how the political observers read the event.